My six year old son, Guy-Guy, learned to read from the television. That's kinda white trash. I wish I could say he learned from his teacher or Sesame Street or ANY show on PBS, but it was lower than that. He learned to read the list of shows on our TiVo. Three years ago he was recognizing the words Scooby Doo, Pokemon, and Thomas the Train well enough to scroll through the list and pick his favorite show. So, maybe it wasn't real reading, but he did get the main idea.
When I took him to the eye doctor last year, I sheepishly explained that we realized he had a vision problem when we got new TiVo software. The list of shows changed to a smaller font size. He'd had a tantrum since he couldn't read it anymore and threw the remote at the TV. Turns out Guy-Guy is far-sighted, and thanks to TiVo we'd figured it out.
Clearly, we let our kids watch too much TV. That is probably our biggest parenting vice. Early word recognition is an upside, but the whole family has become marketing victims.
Shopping trips have become white trash experiences, as my kids now yell out all the foods and toys they've seen on TV when we are in stores. I consider loudly discussing - within earshot of other parents - what level my twins are in swim class or the shot my daughter Kitty Cat hit in tennis, but those would be lame non-sequiturs when my kids are busy drawing the connection from TV to real life — the retail version of real life, that is.
Lately, all I hear about is Green Bags, since they will keep a carrot crunchy for forty-five days, according to my kids. They don't know how long a carrot will stay crunchy without a Green Bag, but the commercial convinces them that forty-five days is miraculous. Mimicking the commercial, my kids test produce at grocery stores. They bend the carrots back and forth into U shapes, and tell me in a really loud voice, "Mom! The carrots BEND! This store needs Green Bags!"
Before the Green Bags obsession, we never heard the end of Floam, that gooey stuff embedded with styrofoam balls. I guess my kids thought everything they owned would get recycled sooner or later. But, the infomercial shows us that after decorating our telephone with Floam, we could "keep it forever!" This was the big selling point in my kids' minds.Continued on the next page